• N.Y.-26 Special Election – Tuesday’s Special Election in New York’s 26th Congressional District finds a very tight race in available polling. Democrat Kathy Hochul has a numerical lead of 42 percent to 38 percent for Republican Jane Corwin and 12 percent for tea party candidate Jack Davis in data from Siena College Research Institute. Those results are well within the poll’s margin of error completed Friday.
Despite the very close numbers, some of the internals are revealing. Hochul secures more of her base voters, winning 76 percent among Democrats, while Corwin only secures 66 percent of her base Republican voters. Independents tilt to Hochul by 44 to 36 percent. Again, those results among independents are within the error margins.
Many pundits have pointed to this race as an early test of Republican attempts to tackle Medicare as a part of budget reform. In the Siena poll, Medicare was not singled out as the most important issue in the vote. Fully 21 percent call it most important, about the same level as the federal budget (19 percent) and jobs (20 percent). Medicare does rise to the top for Democrats, but less so for Republicans and independents.
• N.H. GOP Primary – Mitt Romney holds a decisive lead in early polls from the University of New Hampshire among likely Republican primary voters in the state. With the first New Hampshire debate scheduled for June 13, Romney leads on all the key attributes tested, but most strikingly on his ability to beat President Obama in 2012. Some 42 percent say he has the best chance to beat Obama, with the rest of the potential candidates not even cracking 5 percent.
• Gas prices/summer travel – Gas prices have ticked down in recent weeks from their two-year high point in government data. But the public still feels the shock leading into the kick-off of the summer driving season. In an AP poll released last week, 41 percent expect increasing prices will cause them serious hardship. That’s about the same level reporting serious hardship in a Post-ABC poll in April.